This type of question is very difficult for Allen. His aphasia is now at the point where it's not only speaking and writing that he's having trouble with. Grammar and syntax are also harder and harder for him to process. The negative twist (e.g. 'not') in this series of questions requires him to make a grammatical leap that is especially challenging. In both oral or written language, Allen now does best with simple sentences in which the parts appear in a standard order (subject – verb – object). Complex and compound sentences, or sentences like the ones in this exercise which take a strange turn, are problematic for him.
Spelling, too, is proving more and more difficult – as well as writing, which has been a problem for a long time. Combine those two difficulties, and writing out a word like 'laundry' can take a long time, and several mistakes. By the time he is forming the 'd', he has forgotten what word he started out to spell – or that's how it seems. Once an excellent speller, Allen now regularly leaves out letters and makes other spelling mistakes – things he would never have done a few years ago.
I have no idea why Allen answered 'yogurt' to this question! Perhaps he was thinking of the smoothies I occasionally make with yoghurt. He managed to write answers to 16 of the 20 questions of this sort, but a few stumped him (e.g. "What is something hot that is not fire?" "Tell me something wood that isn't a table.") I don't know why. And the whole exercise took him well over an hour.
I'm not convinced that Allen enjoys these language exercises any more, even though he spends hours on things like this every day. And this has been going on, now, for almost three years. If there were other things he could do – such as woodwork or gardening - I think I'd suggest we throw away the pens and papers and books and just do other things that give him pleasure. But the fact is there is very little left that Allen can do to keep himself occupied. Once a first-class putterer and amateur carpenter, now he can't even bang in a nail or use a screwdriver even to just unscrew something. And he never really cared for gardening - though he was an able and willing gardener's assistant. But anything requiring strength, coordination or a steady hand is now beyond him. So working with pen and paper is about all that's left from his former life. It also happens to be that by which, I think, he has always defined himself – along with reading, and that, too, is proving a major challenge.
Large-print books reduce the amount of text Allen has to process in each line. But as with spelling, short-term memory loss is proving a real hindrance to his getting much pleasure from reading. Quite simply, he has to read so slowly that he forgets the main elements of a story by the time he goes on to the next page. Those texts that he can process are mainly the kinds of things given to primary school children. And even though he is willing to read such texts when working in the comprehension workbooks I buy from the educational supply warehouse, he doesn't really want to read about clowns, circuses and other childish topics when reading for pleasure.
Recently I stumbled upon a series of nonfiction texts by Anthony Horowitz, intended for upper primary students. Each of four books in this Legends series (Heroes and Villains, Battles and Quests, Beasts and Monsters, Death and the Underworld) features seven stories taken from mythology or fiction that are interesting enough to appeal to an adult reader. But the little books have just the right mix of type size, grammatical construction and amount of text per story to make them manageable for someone with A's problems. I found the first book in the local children's library, and promptly ordered the next three titles from Booktopia. Until now, we've relied on library books but Allen now wants to annotate his texts and underline various things. It seems to help him digest the content, so we're trying out his new method with these little books. So far they are holding his interest.
Allen's obviously determined to continue reading and writing, even as everything gets harder and harder for him, and more and more frustrating for us both. Can anyone suggest any titles that might appeal to a serious, mature adult whose technical reading age is probably no higher than 10 years?